JoAnn Falletta is an American conductor who, though known primarily for her incisive interpretations of American music (contemporary and earlier works, including many compositions by female composers), has developed a broad repertory over the years, taking in many of the standards by Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy, Ravel, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, and Britten, as well as those of lesser currency by Reger, Schreker, Bax, and Ibert. Falletta has conducted over 100 orchestras in the Americas and has also led many in Europe and Asia. She has made over 40 recordings for several different labels, including Naxos, Albany Records, Delos, and New Albion Records.
JoAnn Falletta was born in Queens, NY, on February 27, 1954. Her parents were non-musicians but encouraged their daughter in her musical pursuits, which began with her interest as a young child in classical guitar. Falletta studied at the Mannes School of Music in New York and later did post-graduate work at Juilliard, where she received a doctorate degree in conducting in 1989.
Falletta was appointed music director of the Queens Philharmonic Orchestra in 1978, and during her 10-year tenure took on two other music directorships, the first with the Denver Chamber Orchestra in 1983 (leaving in 1992) and with the Bay Area Women's Philharmonic, where she served from 1986 to 1996.
In 1989 Falletta was appointed music director of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, bringing great financial success to the organization with three sell-out seasons in her first years there. She would hold this post until 2001, but an even longer association began with her appointment as music director of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in 1991, a post she still held in 2007, along with her music directorship of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
The busy Falletta accepted the latter post in 1998, thus placing her among the most important dozen or so American conductors. Her first recording, Baroquen Treasures, with the Bay Area Women's Philharmonic, appeared in 1990 and was followed by several other titles later on in the decade. But her discography has grown by leaps in the new century: among her later efforts are a pair of 2006 Naxos releases, the first containing works by Copland (including Rodeo) and the latter offering music from Pygmalion, Portrait of Galatea, and other pieces by the little-known American composer Romeo Cascarino.